Reflection on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
When I was still in the classroom many years ago, the children would often ask me as to why Jesus would tell his disciples not to tell anyone after He gave sight to the blind, made the deaf hear or even brought someone back to life. How else were people going to believe that He was the Son of God, the Messiah/ If Jesus were alive today, living in these crazy times, I think He would still be someone who was going about doing good deeds. He would be someone who would offer to buy groceries for a single mother whose food stamps had run out so she could feed her children or would fill someone’s car with gas so they could get to their first job in months or buy school supplies for some needy kids so they would be prepared to start the new school year, but I firmly believe that Jesus wouldn’t want any press release, no headlines, no advertising, no Twitter feed and no Facebook postings.
Jesus was more about up-ending the conventional wisdom of what it means to be the greatest or to be first or number one. As He traveled from town to town with his disciples, it was for the purpose of exposing them to different cultures, people of varying means, and to learn from Him that they were all (Jew or Gentile) to be served in the same way. Not even money, position or prestige could influence Jesus to measure some people more worthy than others. The lesson for His followers, who seemed more concerned as to who of them was the greatest, was about service and love vs. position, power and greed.
Jesus took them away from the crowds so He could continue teaching them about what is most important. Once again, He tells them that He is going to Jerusalem where He will suffer and be crucified. However, He always adds “but on the third day I will rise again.” There is always a promise of hope after the suffering. Most Christians like everything about Jesus, except the hard parts. Like losing your own friends, being rejected and, of course, suffering and dying on a cross. The message of hope and the promise of the Resurrection is lost on most of us.
Over the past year and many months, we have been living through and experiencing a horrific pandemic of global proportions. We are sick and tired of living under the fear of this modern day plague. It is easy for us at this stage to fall back on our egos, which seek immediate gratification and despise anything hard or uncomfortable. We want a quick fix. If only we could go back to the old days, or if only we could leap into the future where there is no COVID. Let me say this: The past, present and future matter, but our experience of God is tied to how fully we live in each moment, and the only moment we have is the present. Yes, even in a pandemic, even when there is so much upheaval, so much disparity and evil in the world, let us remember the words in the Letter of St. James: “Where jealousy and selfish ambitions exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.”